KNOXVILLE (WATE) – The new school year is off to a bit of a rocky start for some University of Tennessee students. Many wanted to live in some brand new apartments right off the Cumberland Avenue strip, but they’re still not ready, even after leases were signed.
Frustrated students planning to move into The Standard this fall are now living in limbo – some staying with friends and others have been put up in hotels. For a little more than a month, senior Mallory Riggins has been living in a hotel, keeping some of her belongings in her car.
“It’s just been a huge lack of communication. It’s not easy because you just never know where anything is,” said Riggins.
This isn’t how she planned to start her senior year.
“I mean this is my third time moving since August 13,” she said.
Riggins is one of hundreds of students having to deal with The Standard not being ready. She says they were supposed to move in on August 13 before classes started, but the project isn’t finished.
“It’s definitely not what I signed up for at all.”
It’s just another level of stress to deal with along with school and work.
“It’s just kind of been an emotional roller coaster figuring out whenever we’re supposed to move in,” said Kaylee Millican, another senior living in a hotel.
The Standard’s spokesperson said delays were caused because of weather and a tight labor market. The spokesperson also said the company is going through a learning curve and initial projections were off.
“We recognize the frustrations created by move-in delays and deeply regret the inconveniences being realized by our residents. Landmark Properties is committed to handling these issues in the best ways possible and improving its projections for future urban infill projects,” said spokesperson Cody Nichelson.
Nichelson also says everyone should be moved in by early October. Some people are getting the chance to move in next week like Shane Gatti, who’s not too optimistic.
“I don’t think they’re going to finish up by then,” said Gatti. “Look at the first floor. They don’t even have a facade up. The walls aren’t even done. It just doesn’t look like something I can move into and live there.”
To help accommodate students, the Standard has been giving them $125 gift cards each week. Shuttles transport students who stay in hotels far from campus. When The Standard opens, all students will get a free month’s rent.
Students who chose not to stay in hotels are getting an account credit at double the pro-rated rental amount daily.
“It’s been great for us financially but I don’t think you can put that much of a price tag on a piece of mind,” said Michael Fitzgerald.
Fitzgerald was staying at the Four Points Sheraton. On Friday, he had to move out for the weekend.
“About 4 or 5 days ago, we got an email saying we would have to check out of our hotel this weekend because it had been booked up for months,” said Fitzgerald.
The hotel was booked because of a Tennessee football game this weekend. He says he cannot move back into the hotel until Sunday. For now, all of his belongings are in his car. Students living in the Holiday Inn will have to move out next weekend for the Florida football game.
“It’s a lot more stressful because we have to move out and then move back in,” said Fitzgerald.
It is causing stress for parents too.
“I just feel we are being taken advantage of,” said Michelle Simmons, a mother of a student living in a hotel.
Simmons is not happy her son is living in a hotel and is not happy she is paying rent for an apartment that is not ready.
“We want the option to get out now. I think that is the least they can do,” said Simmons.
A third party property manager who looked over the lease agreement said, “it was clear Landmark Properties knew that construction delays were possible.”
The lease agreement says, “tenants will not be relieved of their responsibilities even in the event of the failure of the landlord to provide a bedroom.”
Students may back out of their lease if the rooms are not ready by October 13. Fitzgerald said he received an email from The Standard saying he should be moved in by October 12.
A spokesperson for Landmark Properties said it is working very hard to get the project finished. However, it is not going to rush the construction process because it wants to provide a safe environment for its tenants.
If you have any questions or concerns about the project, Landmark Properties encourages you to email them at email@example.com.